Going wrong with the “right”

A personal choice would usually lead to avoidance of such highly controversial topics as religion and politics as those discussions rarely conclude without having altered sometimes long-standing relationships. Oddly enough, this was the subject of a conversation in which a neighbor and I engaged last week. He, a devoted Republican, not knowing which political party I would choose to support, set upon the task of trying to convince me why his selection was more sensible.

The discussion persisted for more than an hour and a half during which time I eventually realized “Tom” (for the sake of reference) wasn’t really interested in hearing my point of view. While he spoke, all attention would be directed toward his comment but then I wouldn’t be allowed to so much as complete a sentence without his interrupting.

But the focus of this opinion isn’t the fiery debates that usually manifest as the consequence of otherwise reasonable individuals engaging in “intellectual” discussion about opposing political parties. The actual, more significant concern centers on the over-all process of logging support for either party or in other words the right to vote itself.

There are many citizens of this country who have resolved that the effort to visit a local polling station or even request and submit an absentee ballot isn’t worth the time it requires to complete the process. In truth, the act of having a voice in the democratic system is one of the few things Americans have the benefit of sharing equally…at least to a nominal degree. Granted, there are still challenges and obstacles to having the overall construct of voting rights implemented on a level social plane, but continued developments lend to an increasingly more diverse democratic mechanism.

It wasn’t until August 18, 1920 that following a virtual battle in the Congress and state legislatures, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified as part of the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” And so it was that for the first time in the country’s existence, women were granted the right to participate in the basic requirement of a democracy.

With growth fostered by years of bloodshed, development, and change, it yet required nearly half a century beyond women’s being awarded the fundamental right for that same luxury to eventually be assigned to the Black culture. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Passing in the U.S. Senate by a 77-19 vote on May 26, 1965 and following a more than month long debate, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 333-85 on July 9th, two months later. President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on August 6, 1965.

Realization of the extent to which individuals have been required to make sacrifices throughout the history of our nation should be enough within itself to compel citizens to fight their way, tooth and nail, to the polls at every election. Registered inhabitants of the US are, thereby, allowed a right that hasn’t come without struggle. This is the reason it’s baffling as to how some can voluntarily forfeit their voice when so many others have died for the sake of making the right to vote a reality.

There are few processes as related to the governmental structure of our nation wherein the people have a more direct impact on the outcome. Electing representatives whose ideals most closely align with the outcome U.S. citizens desire is about as close to occupying public office as the majority of society can get. Joining together and exercising the earned right to cast a ballot in public elections speaks to the very essence of what America is supposed to represent. If, by chance, anyone rejects the option to have their electoral voice be heard they should then remain silent on all government matters.

To pose a question or share your opinion, you can reach Billy Howard at bw3bh@yahoo.com or P. O. Box 8103, Jacksonville, FL 32239.